"If IFS audits cannot take place on time, the certificate will expire. Renewal of the certificate is not possible without an audit" - What now? No remote audits? No certificate renewal until after the crisis? The official attitude of IFS in times of Corona sounds tough at first. But don't worry - it's not as bad as it seems. Below you will find all the important information on how to proceed.

Only an on-site audit can assess product integrity, manufacturing processes and the corresponding employee competencies - IFS is convinced of this. In times of Corona, on-site audits cannot now be carried out in many cases due to precautionary measures taken by governments, manufacturers and certification bodies. The IFS has therefore decided that IFS certificates that cannot be renewed due to the pandemic will expire. In this case, the IFS database will indicate that the certificate could not be renewed due to the Corona pandemic.

Let's now shed some light on the specific steps you need to follow if you are facing an IFS audit in times of Corona.

Cancel the audit or not?

First of all, it must be clarified whether an audit can take place or not. IFS recommends that all affected sites conduct a risk assessment and consider whether to allow outside individuals access to the facility. In other words, each site should conduct an individual risk assessment, taking into account the health risk and government policies, to determine whether or not a particular audit can be conducted. If the conclusion is that a third-party audit is not possible at this time, the relevant certification body must be informed with immediate effect and the audit postponed. Contact us using the contact form at the bottom of this page.

Administrative steps

As soon as the information is received by the certification body, it will tick the recently introduced checkbox in the IFS database. This allows you to demonstrate to all users of the IFS database that a scheduled audit had to be postponed due to the coronavirus crisis. In addition to checking the box, IFS strongly recommends that you agree with the certification body on a statement for the comment field, indicating the following:

  • Reason for postponement
  • Current status of production
  • Additional measures taken by the site to ensure the safety and quality of the products (e.g. internal audits, employee training/instruction)
  • Additional surveillance measures by the certification body
  • Next steps in audit planning

All IFS database users that you have marked as favorites will then receive a notification with the information entered in the comment field. The expired certificate will remain visible in the database for 12 months after the certificate expires or until a new certificate is uploaded. IFS answers further questions here.

Constanze Illner

Constanze Illner (she/her) is Research and Communications Officer in the area of sustainability and food safety. In this position, she keeps an eye on all important developments in this context and informs our clientele in a monthly newsletter. She also moderates the annual Sustainability Heroes conference.